If Essay

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Perkins is a professor of American literature and film. In this essay, Perkins explores the poem's idealistic yet bitter tone.

Kipling's "If" has become his most popular and anthologized poem. Since its publication in 1909, many readers have professed the poem's set of rules to be inspirational and motivational in their focus on personal integrity and moral behavior and consider it to offer excellent advice to younger generations. Lines from the poem appear over the player's entrance to the center court at Wimbledon, a reflection of its timeless appeal. As James Harrison notes in his study of Kipling's works, "as a compendium of moral maxims, it may well still be being discovered by new readers as a kind of secular decalogue." Yet, not all readers have praised the poem. Harrison writes that some will find that it reduces "a minefield of moral complexities to a series of simplistic equations...

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This section contains 1,292 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the If Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
If from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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